Is sharing still caring when it comes to exes?
It’s no secret to anyone in their twenties that the dating scene can get heated. Heartbreak,
lies, betrayal are on the daily rota and can easily send you spiralling into a second puberty,
where you’re laid on the floor of your bedroom, Taylor Swift on full blast. The monologue you
are having about how no one understands you would be almost cinematic, if it hadn’t been a
week since you last showered…
However, as love has turned up its pace under the influence of hook-ups and dating apps,
chances are, someone has been there, done that. And by that, I mean your ex.
This person is your eskimo sister, and we’re not talking Inuits. It’s a term defined by Urban
Dictionary as “a woman who has shared a sexual partner with another person and the two
are on friendly terms”. Historically, it relates to Inuit women sharing beds to keep the cold
away. Cute, isn’t that just what you need!
The rise of eskimo siblings
Eskimo sisters are hardly a new concept – a short comedy from 2015 with the same name
follows a group of people in a bar as they slowly realise they have all slept with each other.
As we move with the times and more people expand their dating pool outside of the
heteronormative, you may find your eskimo sister is not much of a sister after all.
“I was shocked when it happened.” says 24-year-old Jane Clarke *, who came into an unlikely
siblinghood. “For me it all started as a workplace romance where me and this guy were
friends with benefits. That went on for a couple of months before we started dating – like
properly seeing each other. Eventually, we had a pretty classic break-up. We were still
working together, so we remained friends.
“I learned he was seeing someone else just a couple of days later. I wanted to meet up with
him and get a drink, because I wanted to talk to someone. He assumed I was inviting him for
sex – because he thinks he is so irresistible! So he just told me he can’t because he is seeing
someone. I was at work when this happened and I was hurt so I went for a cig and broke
“I hadn’t told anyone about my relationship and I had no one to talk to. When one of my
co-workers saw me crying in the smoking area I just told him everything – we hugged, I cried
some more and he asked me to get a drink after our shift.
“We shared a bottle of vodka in a park where he told me he was the one seeing my ex. The
more we drank that night, the more emotional we got – it was an overall fun time but the
shock, the emotions (and the vodka) caught up to the point where we sat on my doorstep at
6 am crying our eyes out before I was dragged in because I couldn’t stand up anymore.
“I was surprised to find out they broke up a month later, a bit happy, a bit sad – a lot of things
at once. I didn’t even once think me and my co-worker could never be friends after what
happened, maybe it was a bit weird at the time, but I thought “why would we be fighting over
someone who’s hurt us both – it’s just not worth it”.
How to approach eskimo siblings?
Romantic rivalry is a story as old as time, though, and it can be hard to escape a concept
that seems so ingrained in our minds. Not giving yourself the time to listen through Lana Del
Rey’s entire discography with a tub of melting ice cream on your lap can lead to comparison,
resentment or getting you and your eskimo sibling on a crazed stalking spree. None of them
are a hot look.
“Shared experiences and pain can be super attractive and make people bond faster than
otherwise but doesn’t always mean that they’ll share the same relationship when faced with
different circumstances,” says relationship counsellor Ruchi Ruuh.
“These shared traumas can certainly act as a glue in social settings, creating connections
and belonging, but the connection that feels so authentic at the moment might not turn out to
be the same. One person might start projecting their trauma onto another or both.”
Siblings are not necessarily friends, anyone who’s grown up with one would tell you so –
sometimes, the favourite top you “lost”, which randomly pops up in your sister’s closet a year
later can have you disown her for weeks. Same goes for your eskimo sibling – though a
shared experience of disappointment can kickstart a lifelong friendship, it is not enough to
How can it go wrong?
“I met my eskimo sister on a night out.” says Molly Howe, a 21-year-old history student “I’d
seen her briefly before and we shared a friend group so I thought why not be friends! We
had more Jagerbombs that night than I had orgasms during my whole relationship with the
guy and yeah, we hit it off!”
“I could tell we were both very different people right away and since he broke up with her just
a month before, it was obviously very fresh in her mind. The more we spent time together I
realised she was more interested in me as a charity therapist than a friend.
“She’d ring me at 4 am crying, saying she wants to be back with our ex, the next day we
would meet and she’d slag him off. Eventually all our talks led to this guy who I was over to
the point where she’d make me relive my whole relationship, which wasn’t worth it in the first
“It went on for over a month until I couldn’t take it anymore and cut ties with her. As far as I
know they are back together now, but I don’t care and it feels so refreshing. Maybe she
helped me see how banal it was that I used to be so obsessed with someone who didn’t care
“People who have shared experiences, especially negative ones, create quick bonds of trust
and dependency.” explains Ruuh.
“Imagine you meet someone nice at a yoga class, you start talking and realise that both of you like sharing memes, listening to similar music, and
have a taste for sarcasm. Further in the conversation, you find out both of you come from
dysfunctional families and were made to feel inadequate by the parents.
“Now a common ground is created to share your experiences, an empathic person who
knows exactly how you feel. You feel understood and loved, and suddenly you are finishing
each other’s sentences and boom the thought pops “We are soulmates”.
“There is nothing wrong with connections that are based on shared trauma or experiences but it doesn’t mean
that you’ll share the same compatibility or chemistry as the relationship progresses.”
The Other Woman
We all have a different healing process and while forgiving and forgetting can be rewarding
and mature, sometimes, a hit below the belt is what you need and revenge a-la-The Other
Woman can be a cathartic moment, as it was for Jane:
“Two days after their break-up my now eskimo brother asked me to go for a drink at Spoons,
saying I was the only one who could understand what he’s going through right now. So we
did that, we talked about everything from our point of view and all of our ex’s lies came out.
“In an emotional fit we both went to his place. He came out and didn’t say anything – he took
turns looking at us both before my friend told him he’s a piece of shit and went for it – just
beat the crap out of him while our ex was standing there with his stupid face trying to
process everything. We went up, we screamed, we both slapped him again and my friend
vomited vodka crans all over his carpet (that stains like hell). Maybe not the most mature
response but it was definitely satisfying!”
Once the break-up ice cream tub is back in the freezer and you are back to your regular
showering routine, grab a coffee with your eskimo sibling. No need to be awkward about it
either – if you were both fucked over by the same person, you’ve basically had sex with each
other. Have a laugh over your ex’s dick size, his weird obsession with Lego or his ridiculous
screen time. Then block him and see what else you have in common. You might have just
made a friend for life!
“Now the whole thing is behind us, me and my eskimo brother are doing a lot better.” says
“We are still friends, we don’t talk about our ex because he just doesn’t deserve the
attention. We still drink, just without the crying part. I regret that I ever dated him, but I guess
in the end it was meant to happen. Maybe eventually we would have become friends anyway – just with a lot less drama!”
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
Edited by Audrey Chow